Fitness industry grows as Vietnam becomes body conscious

With interest in fitness activities picking up in Vietnam, gymnasium chains are earning big bucks.

California Fitness and Yoga reported revenues of over VND300 billion ($12.85 million) in 2018, up 6 percent from 2017 and 60 percent from 2016. It is the leader with 32 centers across the country and 100,000 members.

The chain, founded by an American, is part of the California Management Group (CMG) which entered Vietnam in 2007 and also owns other fitness centers such as California Yoga Plus and UFC Gym, which teaches mixed martial arts.

Elite Fitness reported revenues of VND465 billion ($19.91 million) last year, up 17 percent from 2017 and 60 percent from 2016. It belongs to Lifestyle Vietnam and has 15 centers around the country.

But there is a big gap between these two and the rest of the field. Fit24 belonging to German fitness chain EuroFit came to Vietnam in 2012 and reported revenues of VND25 billion ($1 million) last year.

Industry insiders said gyms are costly affairs because all the equipment has to be imported. A small 300-square-meter facility costs VND500 million ($21,412) to set up, while a premium 2,500 sq.m gym costs at least $1.5 million. To scale up to 5,000 square meters’ costs $5 million.

These are only the initial investments, with gyms then having to spend large amounts of money on sales, marketing and hiring personal trainers.

The fitness industry is expected to grow annually at 19.9 percent to be worth $112.7 million by 2020, according to Statistics Portal.

A survey by local market research firm Q&Me last year found that 80 percent of men and 73 percent of women, aged 18-39, are interested in going to the gym.

Twenty-six percent spent from VND400,000 ($17.13) a month on gyms, the survey, which polled 868 respondents in Hanoi and HCMC, found.

Major international sports equipment brands have entered Vietnam. French company Decathlon opened its first store in Vietnam in April with over 14,000 products, while Japan’s Mizuno came in 2015.

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